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Instructions Not Included Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Variety Joe Leydon

    Instructions Not Included is a sporadically amusing but unduly protracted dramedy that slowly — very slowly — devolves into a shameless tearjerker during its third act.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Annlee Ellingson

    There's a lot of movie here with unexpected developments, held together by the irresistible chemistry between Derbez and his adorable pint-sized co-star.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Mix of comedy and tragedy in Mexican dad-daughter tale.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Instructions Not Included -- which is primarily in Spanish with English subtitles, though some scenes are played in English -- is a blend of very funny and very sad. Viewers can expect everything from sexual farce and antic slapstick comedy (a stuntman falling from great heights and repeatedly slamming into a brick wall) to the profound love between a father and his little girl. Before he knows he has a daughter, the main character is a confirmed ladies' man; his sexual dalliances are comic and without nudity, though there's a smattering of cleavage, a few male "butt" shots, and lots of rolling around in bed. There are also fart jokes, a dog peeing on camera, occasional swearing ("f--k," "bulls--t," "damn"), and sexual references ("knocks her up," "damn cheap condoms," "you did it with your sister?"). A central character is a lesbian involved in a mature, loving relationship. Fear is a recurring theme (a little boy's fear of threatening wolves is played in flashback throughout; he's also shown at the mercy of a scorpion and being thrown over a cliff, though no one is severely injured during these episodes). Spoiler alert: During the final sequence, the movie takes a tragic turn that may be too disturbing for some, with the death of a major character.

  • Families can discuss how facing fear is an important theme in Instructions Not Included. Did watching any of it trigger thoughts of your own fears? How can you best deal with things that you're afraid of?
  • Some films are thought to "manipulate the audience's feelings." What does this mean? What do you think the filmmakers want viewers to take away from this particular movie?
  • How does the movie portray sex/sexual relationships? There's a lot of sexual humor; does that affect the impact of the content?
  • This movie is a combination of many different film types/genres. What are they? What elements did you like best? What will you remember most?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Depicts how parenthood can bring life-changing positives and joys for even the most incorrigible of characters. Demonstrates how unselfishness, unconditional love, and finding beauty in individual moments all contribute to a rich, meaningful life. Coping with fear (both imagined and real) is a central theme.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: A dad and a mom start out as irresponsible, self-involved semi-adults, but they become unselfish, devoted, and mature parents as they bond with their young daughter. In flashback, the hero's well-meaning but misguided older father subjects his young son to assorted terrors in order to "tame his fear"; the events profoundly affect the little boy.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: There's an incredibly sad death that may upset younger/more sensitive viewers. Slapstick action in multiple sequences. The lead character is a comically inept stunt man who jumps from great heights, smashes repeatedly into a brick wall, is shot in the bottom, appears to be set on fire, and more. On a few occasions, the audience is led to believe that he hasn't survived a stunt, but he soon recovers. A toddler has two close calls: at the edge of a swimming pool and on a wild motorcycle escape with her father. Frequent shots of imagined snarling wolves and one encounter with a scorpion represent the lead adult character's difficulty in dealing with fear -- those scenes are set up early by an unwittingly cruel father who places his son in jeopardy (pushing him from a high cliff, facing wild animals) in order to make him fearless. A little girl is bullied by her peers.

  • sex false2

    Sex: There's no actual sex or nudity, but expect lots of sexual innuendo, farcical bed-hopping, and many meant-to-be-funny shots of large breasts and male butts. The adult main character starts out as a playboy; a long sequence early in the movie follows his passionate but fast-paced and funny sexual foreplay from one bed to another with assorted voluptuous sex partners, sometimes more than one at a time.

  • language false2

    Language: Occasional swearing and sexual language (mostly in Spanish with English subtitles) includes words/phrases like "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "crap," "hell," "damn," "boobs," "knocks her up," "busting my balls," "oh God" (as an exclamation), etc. Also fart jokes/sounds.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Aero Costa Rica, Johnny Bravo.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: An adult character smokes.